How to build a true partnership between a grant writer and a nonprofit

Congratulations!  You hired a consultant to write grants for your nonprofit.  Now what?


Grant writing is a collaboration between your consultant and your whole staff.  Communication is key!  Who should they talk to and when in the process?


A grant writer can do many tasks to help you succeed with grants.  They can:


  1. Keep you organized and aware of deadlines.
  2. Help create or organize attachments (the Achilles’ Heel of many grants!)
  3. Do research for new funders or new opportunities
  4. Start the grant with basic agency/program information or provide editing review of grants you tackle.  Word (and character counts!)  are strict for many grants and every WORD does count in these cases.
  5. Provide assistance with complicated state or federal grants, which almost always need to be done in 4-5 weeks.
  6. Write and edit the grant!


Unfortunately, they cannot do any of these tasks without your feedback and support.  Timely communication and responses are so important in this partnership!


  • Direction – who should the grant writer talk to for budget, program information, research, etc.?
  • Budget – the earlier a budget is completed in the grant writing process, the better. What you request in the budget must match the discussion in the narrative.  Reviewers pay attention to these details!
  • Data – demographic data is often required, but it is always important to back up your request with data regarding your clients. Yearly comparisons are great to include in grants to show growth and changes.
  • Evaluations/Outcomes – provide past outcomes completed on your programs to help your grant writer understand your program and nonprofit. Also, be prepared to define the outcomes for the grant request in the terminology this funder uses.
  • Quotes and positive stories – it is great to include quotes from clients and community supporters that can “show” how important your nonprofit is to your community.
  • Research – provide the research your nonprofit used to come into being and to create your programs. Provide national and local statistics, as much as possible, for your community issue. Keep track of where you get your research and statistics, so you can update it yearly, or more often, if available.
  • Case Statement – what makes you unique? Why should you be funded over other groups in your community or those doing similar work?  What do you do?  And why!  (Grant writers can help create a case statement too.)


If you are able to provide and define these elements early in the grant writing collaboration, your grant projects will go more quickly and smoother.  Be sure to leave days in your timeline to apply a few days before the grant is due.  You never know when an online application system will have trouble or be overloaded with others applying at the last minute.

Want to learn other ways to be successful with grant writing? Visit our post on how to create a viable grant writing program.

(Contributed by team member Barbara Slover)

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